Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, 71, has been released from prison due to coronavirus concerns and has been granted home confinement at one of his homes in Northern Virginia.
Up until now, Manafort had been serving his 7.5-year sentence in a Pennsylvania federal prison and was slated to be released in November 2024.
Manafort was convicted in 2019 on tax fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
Manafort's lawyers petitioned for his early release. In April, they wrote, "Even though there are no reported cases of COVID-19 at FCI Loretto at this time, given the growing number of cases in Pennsylvania and increasing challenges in testing inmates and staff potentially exposed to COVID-19, it is only a matter of time before the infection spreads to staff and inmates at FCI Loretto, at which time it may be too late to prevent high-risk inmates, such as Mr. Manafort, from contracting the potentially deadly virus."
The spread of the coronavirus in prisons has been an ongoing concern, especially for criminal justice activists and defense lawyers, as conditions behind bars are reportedly dismal with little or no access to soap. In some prisons, hand sanitizer is banned. It’s also nearly impossible to socially distance while incarcerated.
There are no known cases of COVID-19 at the prison where Manafort was serving his sentence. Many are questioning the ethics of releasing Manafort while other incarcerated persons with lesser charges remain behind bars.